by VEJAY STEEDE
The pitfalls of this kind of dynamic are many, and some common mistakes may cause your application to go completely ignored, once out of hand. We understand the nerve-wracking anxiety that comes with applying for scholarships, so we’ve compiled a collection of blunders you MUST avoid if your application campaign has any chance of being successful. Call it a Top 5 List of Do Nots…
PUTTING ALL YOUR EGGS IN A COUPLE BIG BASKETS
Try not to get fixated on those big scholarships. Yes, it would be perfect to get that $25,000 bursary to cover your tuition and expenses for the year, but those are only granted to a select few, and if you only apply for those ‘big boys,’ then you’re taking a big risk! There are countless smaller awards that may be geared toward specialised areas of study, localised schools, or uniquely qualified applicants. Apply to as many of these as you qualify for; cast a wide net, because a few of those $5,000 scholarships will do quite nicely instead of the big ‘easy street’ award.
STRETCHING YOUR TIME AND ENERGY TOO THIN
On the other end of the spectrum from blunder #1 – avoid scholarship application burnout by pacing yourself, and not stretching yourself too thin during the process. Give yourself a reasonable limit; look at what you need, and coordinate that with the awards you apply for. For example, if you intend to study Information Technology, and you need about $10,000 to be comfortable for the upcoming school year, apply for seven $1,000 – $5,000 bursaries designed for students in that field. You may also submit applications for a couple large scholarships as well; as long as your discomfort levels don’t rise to unhealthy places.
Arthur Murray perfectly explains the relationship between our first two blunders to avoid: “Don’t count on winning that one big scholarship that will cover everything but also don’t apply for everything in sight. Why? Scholarship application fatigue can kick in – the more you fill out, the less committed you may be to each individual application, and the more likely you will be to make mistakes. Decide on the best candidates, arrange them by the deadline and go from there.” (Arthur Murray, Tips to Avoid Common Scholarship Pitfalls, usnews.com, 2020)
Never – ever, ever, ever submit an essay that has not been thoroughly proofread by several trusted people. This is not an impromptu process. Write a very strong essay, practice interview answers, research the requirements for the awards you really want, and show that you really want the scholarship through the thoroughness of your application. Take this process seriously! Don’t expect to just show up and charm interviewers on the day, or for your writing shortcomings to be received with lenience and understanding. There are other applicants who will ensure that their materials are tight. So proofread and practice!
APPLYING FOR SCHOLARSHIPS IF YOU DON’T MEET ALL THE LISTED REQUIREMENTS
If you need to get a 3.0 GPA to qualify for a scholarship and you get a 2.9, don’t apply. You’re wasting your own time and energy, and the time and energy of the scholarship board. Even if you meet 11 of the 12 requirements for a certain scholarship, don’t bother pursuing it. These boards get hundreds of applications each year; they have zero interest in considering applications that don’t meet basic requirements. There are other scholarships that you will qualify for – apply for those.
If you want to win a scholarship, get your required documents and materials in on time! Some scholarships may have rolling deadlines for requirements such as school admissions, test scores, or programme registrations; but whatever time-related stipulations are set – honour them! Missing deadlines is the fastest, and most clear-cut way, of disqualifying yourself from consideration for that great scholarship that would make your year at university delightfully free of the dreaded financial funk.